Indianmeal moths are attracted to any kind of flour, pasta, cereal, cornmeal, spices and most commonly, dry pet foods including (especially) bird seed to name a few. The adults are small (about ¾”) and may be seen flitting around a kitchen or area where dried foods are stored. They, however, are the not culprits. It’s the larvae! The adults lay eggs on foods and when the larva hatch, these little worms begin munching on your foods!
You may see small worms in the foods or dust-like crumbs in your box of crackers. One customer reported opening a box of graham crackers that had not been opened in some time, only to find the crackers were nearly all crumbs due to hungry Indianmeal moth larvae. A single female can lay up to 400 eggs after mating. The mating and laying of eggs occurs about three days after adult emergence.
Most of the "damage" to stored products occurs when the larvae spin massive amounts of silk that accumulate fecal pellets, cast skins, and egg shells in food products. The damage to stored products due to this contamination exceeds the amount of food eaten by the insects.
What can you do if you find them?
- Hard as it may be, discard ALL dried foods in the pantry and when you replace them, seal new foods in hard plastic containers.
- Completely empty out your pantry, vacuum it thoroughly and wash it down with a cleaner or vinegar and water. Remember to wash under shelves and in corners to remove pupae.
- Carefully examine foods brought into the home. Most infestations occur from infested foods being put in cupboards or pantries. It’s always best to seal dried foods in plastic to be safe.
- Dry pet foods and bird seed are common sources of Indianmeal moths so store these products in sealed plastic tubs or other containers.
- Call DA Exterminating at 800-650-PEST if you suspect pantry pests!